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By Michael Schilf · April 27, 2010
You have this mind-blowing scene to open a screenplay. But that’s it. Characters? Predicament? Obstacles? Nada. And the ending? No clue. Before you write one scene heading, one visual description, one line of dialogue, you must KNOW YOUR ENDING.
Some people say, “I’ll discover it as I go.” No way! In a novel, maybe, but not in a screenplay. If you know that your hero finds the treasure, beats the villain, and gets the girl in the end, it makes sense for him to have none of that at the start. He should be down on his luck, alone, and beaten. This creates a great character arc and provides a rewarding journey.
So if the ending is key, what makes a good one? Happy endings are for storybook princesses, not necessarily a movie. Film endings can be happy but also tragic, bitter sweet, or just plain hilarious. Whatever you decide, let the end determine how you begin.